By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Reporter

Aces not counting out Meralco in Game Two

Posted on April 27, 2016

THEY may be one of the tougher teams in the Philippine Basketball Association and now hold a 1-0 edge in their best-of-three Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series over the Meralco Bolts, but the Alaska Aces are not getting ahead of themselves, knowing there is still much work to do against a highly capable opponent.

The Alaska Aces push for a 2-0 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series lead against the Meralco Bolts today. -- Alvin S. Go
Winners in their series-opener, 97-94, the Aces reengage the Bolts in Game Two today at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a match their coach described as another one “in an incredibly tough series,” owing to the fact that the Bolts have found their identity under Coach Norman Black.

“I have come to know more of Coach Norman with Gilas and Meralco has certainly taken to his character of being hard-nosed and unrelenting and is slowly establishing its identity. And there is Jimmy Alapag who I think is the best leader there is for them on the floor,” said Alaska Coach Alex Compton after their Game One win.

“We may be one step closer to advancing after this win but the Bolts will come back in the next game with adjustments. So we are expecting a difficult Game Two,” he added.

In Game One, the Aces survived a game of runs behind a solid performance from guard RJ Jazul especially down the stretch.

Mr. Jazul, stepping in for the injured JVee Casio (knee), drained seven crucial baskets in the closing minutes of the game to give his team a big push en route to the win.

He finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with three steals and two assists.

“JVee is a big loss but as a team we need to step up,” Mr. Jazul said after being named best player of the game.

Incidentally, Alaska is also playing sans key big man Vic Manuel who is out with an injured calf.

Calvin Abueva tallied 15 points, six rebounds and three assists with Cyrus Baguio and Chris Banchero combining for 23 points.

Import Rob Dozier only had seven points and eight rebounds in a foul-plagued Game One outing.

Meralco, meanwhile, was led by Reynel Hugnatan’s 21 markers. Cliff Hodge and Jared Dillinger finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Arinze Onuaku, the team’s reinforcement, wound up with 11 points and 18 rebounds.

“We are lucky to have weathered the Bolts in Game One. And we have to be physically and mentally prepared for them,” Mr. Compton said.